Antonín Dvořák: Complete Works for Solo Piano I. – In Youthful Soaring
Forget-me-not Polka, B. 1
Per Pedes PolkaPolka in E major, B. 3
Two Minuets, Op. 28, B. 58
Dumka, Op. 35, B. 64
Scottish Dances, Op. 41, B. 74
Tema con variazioni, Op. 36, B. 65
It's not every day one can attend a concert featuring several dozen compositions. Of course, festivals are ideal moments for special experiences. Under the guidance of Ivo Kahánek and the musicologist David Beveridge, audience members and young pianists will experience a marathon concert at which nearly all of Antonín Dvořák's music for solo piano and for piano four-hands will be heard. His piano works will be played in six topically arranged blocks that will encompass everything not already heard at the solo recitals of Iva Kahánek and the Ardašev Piano Duo.
Piano compositions are not in general among Dvořák's best known music - an exception perhaps being the extremely popular Humoresque No. 7 in G Flat Major. Still, he devoted himself to the piano continually, and he also frequently composed at the keyboard. This piano marathon is a special opportunity to get to know Dvořák's pianistic thinking at maximum intensity, magnified by insightful performing.
The patron of the event is the excellent pianist and popular Dvořák Prague Festival guest Ivo Kahánek. He already won over the festival public years ago as the curator of its Chamber Series and again last year performing Dvořák's Piano Concerto, for the recording of which he won a BBC Music Magazine Award. The marathon will also be an opportunity for the festival debuts of the pianists Marek Kozák, Natálie Schwamová, Matouš Zukal, Pavel Zemen, and Kristýna Znamenáčková.
As a performer of unusual emotional power and depth, Ivo Kahánek has earned a reputation as one of the most impressive artists of his generation. He takes ample advantage of his talent to establish instant emotional ties with the public in works ranging from the Baroque to the modern eras, with the Romantic era representing the bulk of his repertoire. Abroad, he is also regarded as a specialist in the interpretation of Czech music.
In 2004, he was the overall winner of the Prague Spring International Music Competition, and before that he had already won many important competition prizes at both home and abroad (the Maria Canals Piano Competition in Barcelona, the Vendome Prize in Vienna, the Stiftung Tomassoni Wettbewerb in Cologne, the Fryderyk Chopin International Competition in Mariánské Lázně, Concertino Praga etc.).
Following successful debuts at the Beethovenfest in Bonn and at the Prague Spring Festival, he received an invitation from the BBC Symphony Orchestra to appear at London’s BBC Proms in Royal Albert Hall, where in August 2007 he played Bohuslav Martinů’s Fourth Piano Concerto (“Incantation”) under the baton of Jiří Bělohlávek, which was broadcast live by BBC television and radio and by Czech Radio Vltava. That critically acclaimed debut is available from the German label Deutsche Grammophon as a digital download. It is no wonder that Sir Simon Rattle chose Ivo Kahánek for two appearances with the Berlin Philharmonic in November 2014, which were enthusiastically received by music critics and the general public. The young pianist became just the second Czech pianist (after Rudolf Firkušný) to appear with that world-famous orchestra in its history. Ivo Kahánek also performs regularly with the Czech Philharmonic, and he has made successful appearances with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Glasgow, the Essener Philharmoniker, the WDR Orchestra in Cologne, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, the Prague Symphony Orchestra, the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Prague Philharmonia, the Brno Philharmonic, and many other orchestras. Just a few of the other artists with whom he has collaborated include conductors Semyon Bychkov, John Eliot Gardiner, Jakub Hrůša, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Rafael Payare, Pinchas Steinberg, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Tomáš Netopil, Andrey Boreyko, Libor Pešek, and Zdeněk Mácal, violinist Daniel Hope, cellist Alissu Weilerstein, violist Paul Neubauer, the Pavel Haas Quartet, the Tetzlaff Quartet, soprano Martina Janková, and tenor Pavel Černoch. In 2018, he won the Classic Prague Award for solo performance of the year.
In 2007, Ivo Kahánek signed an exclusive contract with the label Supraphon Music, and since then he has recorded 15 CDs of music by such composers as Frédéric Chopin, Antonín Dvořák, Leoš Janáček, Bohuslav Martinů, Gideon Klein, Miloslav Kabeláč, Jean Francaix, and Jacques Ibert. For his recording of piano concertos by Antonín Dvořák and Bohuslav Martinů accompanied by the Bamberg Symphony under the baton of Jakub Hrůša, he earned the prestigious BBC Music Magazine Award. That CD also won other important honours: recording of the month of the BBC Music Magazine, Choix de Classique HD, recording of the week on BBC Radio 3, an Angel Award in the Classical category, and a nomination from the International Classical Music Awards. For his album of songs by Bohuslav Martinů with Martina Janková and Tomáš Král, Ivo Kahánek also won a coveted Diapason d’Or from the French music journal Diapason and was named the choice of the month by the journals Opernwelt and Opera News. His latest important recording is the complete piano works of Antonín Dvořák on 4 CDs, which also received an International Classical Music Awards nomination in late 2021, earned the highest rating in the journals Gramophone and Diapason, and like his previous CD, won an Angel Award in the Classical category. He also makes recordings for Czech Radio, Czech Television, and the television station Mezzo.
Ivo Kahánek is a graduate of the Janáček Conservatoire in Ostrava and of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. He also made a study visit to London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama and has taken part in masterclasses led by Karl-Heinze Kämmerling, Christian Zacharias, Alicia de Larrocha, Imogen Cooper, Peter Frankl, and other instructors. At present he is teaching at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague and is leading piano masterclasses at the Summer Music Academy in Kroměříž and at the Prague Conservatoire Piano Courses.
Suk Hall is the newest hall in the Neo-Renaissance Rudolfinum. It was created from 1940 to 1942 during modifications of the adjacent Dvořák Hall, as a smaller concert hall. In designing the interior decor architects Antonín Engel and Bohumír Kozák took inspiration from the original style of the Rudolfinum’s architects Josef Zítek and Josef Schulz, thus Suk Hall fits perfectly into the original composition of the building. During the most recent modifications in 2015, according to a design by architect Petr Hrůša, the acoustics of the hall and its connection to the Rudolfinum’s atrium were improved while respecting the historical value of these premises, protected as a historical landmark. Suk Hall has a new grand piano and continues to be intended mainly for performances of chamber music.